LITTLE-KNOWN Paulo Fonseca is one of the favourites to become Newcastle boss after Steve Bruce was SACKED on Wednesday, and fans can expect a swashbuckling ride this season should he take over.
The former Roma boss, 48, is being lined up to take over the reigns at Newcastle after Bruce's sacking.
As a kid, the Portuguese coach admittedly grew up in poverty in Mozambique, Africa.
His hero was the masked movie hero Zorro, who a young Fonseca would dress up as as a kid.
In 2017, he once appeared in the character's costume at a press conference while in charge of Shakhtar Donetsk.
A year later, he married the love of his life – Katerina Ostroushko – who is 18 years his junior.
OUT OF AFRICA
Fonseca was born in Nampula, Mozambique in 1973, two years before the African colony gained its independence from Portugal.
His family lived in Africa until he was 14, before moving to Barreiro – a city of just 80,000 people near Lisbon.
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It's where he began in interest in football, and would later enjoy his best years as a professional playing for local side F.C. Barreirense.
But alongside his love of the beautiful game, Fonseca obsessed over his favourite TV show Zorro.
Made in the 1950s, the series followed the adventures of Don Diego de la Vega, who opposes the corrupt tyrants of Southern California as the masked swordsman riding horses Phantom and Tornado, alongside sidekick Bernardo.
As a youngster, Fonseca would often dress up as Zorro. And it was something he would repeat in his older years.
If Shakhtar Donetsk qualified for the Champions League knockout stages back in 2017, Fonseca declared he would dress up in full Zorro costume.
Placed in a difficult group with Manchester City, Napoli and Feyenoord it was a daunting task.
However, after defeating City a runners-up spot was secured. Fonseca stayed true to his word.
He donned the costume for his post-match press conference – wearing a big smile on his face.
"It was my favourite outfit as a kid," he explained to reporters.
"As a kid we were poor, and if you were poor Zorro was the easiest mask to create for Carnival."
A YOUNG MAN'S GAME
In 2018, Fonseca said 'I do' to the love of his life, Ukrainian beauty Katerina.
She was the former press secretary of Shakhtar owner Rinat Akhmetov, before she quit her job and moved to Rome when Fonseca was offered a post in Serie A.
They met a year before their romantic and intimate Lako Como wedding in front of friends and family, who flew in from Portugal and Ukraine.
The glam couple, who are often seen looking loved-up in stylised pictures on her Instagram, welcomed a son in 2019.
Fonseca was previously married to longterm partner Sandra, and the pair had two children together.
"He loves all of his three children dearly, he’s an ideal dad," she told Italian publication Wedding Industry Academy.
"He spends every spare minute he has with Martin, who is absolutely crazy about his father and I sometimes feel jealous."
Following a career mostly playing second and third division at centre back for clubs including C.F. Os Belenenses and C.S. Marítimo, Fonseca retired at 32.
Immediately, he made the move to get into coaching – and spent two years with the Estrela de Amadora youth side.
Several modest roles later, the ambitious coach scored his first major job at F.C. Paços de Ferreira in 2012, after a successful spell at second division team C.D. Aves.
He guided the club to third in the Portuguese top flight, which meant Paços qualified for their first ever Champions League.
An unsuccessful period at Porto followed, where he won his first ever trophy as a boss (2013 Portuguese Super Cup) but was sacked in his only season in charge – months before the season ended.
He returned to Paços, before scoring another big gig at Braga, who he led to fourth and won the domestic cup – winning plaudits for their attacking play.
TO UKRAINE WITH LOVE
Between 2016-19, Fonseca enjoyed his most successful years in coaching at Shakhtar Donetsk.
His record speaks for itself. In the three seasons he was there he won the Ukrainian double every time.
While in the Champions League, Shakhtar managed a last-16 place during the 2017-18 season.
Again, plenty of plaudits came Fonseca's way for the expansive and fearless way his team played.
Possession-based football was key to his success – with defenders playing a high-line and wing-backs pushing forward.
He was soon to welcome the biggest job of his life.
After achieving everything he could at Shakhtar, Fonseca was offered the opportunity to coach in Serie A – one that he couldn't refuse.
It was a job where his defensive limitations as a coach were exposed. Overall, his Roma team let in 139 goals in his 102 games in charge.
But his first year was somewhat of a success, where he led Roma to fifth in the league.
An exit in the last-16 of the Europa League can be excused, given they fell to eventual winners Sevilla.
However, the following year, with new owners the Friedkin Group running things, it just got tougher.
Struggling in the league, and looking unlikely to achieve the target of Champions League qualification domestically, hopes were pinned on a Europa League run.
A 6-2 thumping at Manchester United was the nail in the coffin for the Portuguese, and it was announced he would leave the job at the end of the season and make-way for ex-Spurs boss Jose Mourinho.
Fonseca is now a man with a point to prove. And he will face a tough task trying to rally the troops to avoid the drop this season should be take the job.
The Magpies sit 19th on three points after eight games played.
Like Zorro, he will have to be up for the fight.
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